If you've just been diagnosed

If you’ve just been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you might feel scared, worried, stressed or even angry. Your feelings may change over time. There’s no right way to feel and everyone reacts in their own way.

When you’re told you have cancer, it can be a shock and you might find it difficult to take everything in and cope with the information. Thinking about your cancer and possible treatments can be stressful and you may have lots of questions.

You may feel anxious about the future and how having prostate cancer will affect your life and your loved ones.

There are people who are there to support you and there are things you can do to help yourself. Families can also find this a difficult time and they may need support too.

How you can help yourself

Everyone has their own way of dealing with prostate cancer, but you may find some of the following suggestions helpful.

Find out about your cancer

Watch our animation to find out more about prostate cancer.

Depending on your results, your cancer might be treated as:

There are different treatment options for each stage of prostate cancer.

Look into your treatment options

Find out about the different treatments that you could have. Bring a list of questions to your doctor or nurse. And ask about any side effects so you know what to expect and how to manage them. This will help you decide what’s right for you.

Talk to someone

Share what you’re thinking – find someone you can talk to. It could be someone close or someone trained to listen, like a counsellor or your doctor or nurse. People involved in your care should be able to help with any questions or concerns you might have.

Set yourself some goals

Set yourself goals and things to look forward to – even if they’re just for the next few weeks or months.

Look after yourself

Take time out to look after yourself. When you feel up to it, learn some techniques to manage stress and to relax – like breathing exercises or listening to music. If you're having difficulty sleeping, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

We don’t know for sure if any specific foods have an effect on prostate cancer. But eating well can help you stay a healthy weight, which may be important for men with prostate cancer. It’s also good for your general health and can help you feel more in control. Certain changes to your diet may also help with some side effects of treatment. Read more about having a healthy diet.

Be as active as you can

Keeping active can improve your physical strength and fitness, and can lift your mood. We don’t know for sure if physical activity can also help with some side effects of treatment. Even a small amount can help. Take things at your own pace. Read more about physical activity.

Who can help?

Your medical team

It could be useful to speak to your nurse, doctor, GP or anyone in your medical team. They can explain your diagnosis, treatment and side effects, listen to your concerns, and put you in touch with others who can help.

Our Specialist Nurses

Our Specialist Nurses can help with any questions and explain your diagnosis and treatment options. They have time to listen, in confidence, to any concerns you or those close to you have.

The Specialist Nurses were there for me on the day I was diagnosed. They talked me through the scenarios and possible treatments.

- A personal experience

 

Trained counsellors

Counsellors are trained to listen and can help you to find your own ways to deal with things. Many hospitals have counsellors or psychologists who specialise in helping people with cancer – ask your doctor or nurse at the hospital if this is available. You can also refer yourself for counselling on the NHS, or you could see a private counsellor. To find out more, visit www.nhs.uk/counselling or contact the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.

Our one-to-one support service

Our one-to-one support service is a chance to speak to someone who’s been there and understands what you’re going through. They can share their experiences and listen to yours. You can discuss whatever’s important to you. We'll try to match you with a trained volunteer with similar experiences.

Our online community

Our free online community is a place to talk about whatever's on your mind – your questions, your ups and your downs. Anyone can ask a question or share an experience. It’s a place to deal with prostate cancer together.

I found that the online community is a really supportive place.

- A personal experience

 

Local support groups

At local support groups, men get together to share their experiences of living with prostate cancer – you can ask questions, share worries and know that someone understands what you’re going through. Some groups have been set up by local health professionals, others by men themselves. Many also welcome partners, friends and relatives.

Our fatigue support service

Our fatigue support service is a 10-week telephone service delivered by our Specialist Nurses. It can help if you have problems with extreme tiredness (fatigue). Fatigue is a common symptom of prostate cancer and a side effect of some treatments. The fatigue support service can help you make positive changes to your behaviour and lifestyle, which can improve your fatigue over time.

Spiritual support

You might begin to think more about spiritual beliefs as a result of having prostate cancer. You could get spiritual support from your friends or family, or from your religious leader or faith group.

Your medical team

If you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer you will probably see a number of different health professionals at different points in your care. They will help diagnose and treat your prostate cancer and help you with the physical and emotional side effects. Who you see will depend on the treatment you are having and how they do things at your hospital – as each hospital does things differently.

What is my GP’s role?

Your GP will refer you to the hospital and hand over your care to the team there. But your GP will be updated with your test results and treatment. And you may continue to see your GP regularly for prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests if you go on active surveillance or watchful waiting. Or for hormone injections if you have hormone therapy. You should also continue to see your GP about any other health problems, and speak to them about any concerns.

If you have side effects from treatment, your GP can treat these or refer you to a specialist to help. You will need regular follow-ups to check how well your treatment has worked and that your cancer hasn’t come back. Depending on your situation and the services in your area, you may have these with your GP. If there are signs your cancer may come back, your GP can refer you to the hospital.

What is a multi-disciplinary team (MDT)?

The multi-disciplinary team (MDT) is the group of health professionals at the hospital involved in your care. Members of your MDT will do tests to confirm you have prostate cancer and talk you through your treatment options and any relevant clinical trials. They will then treat your prostate cancer and check how well your treatment has worked at follow up appointments.

You may not meet everyone in your MDT and you may only meet some members when you start treatment. But everyone in your MDT will meet regularly to make sure they all know how you’re doing. They will also meet with any other doctors you see who are not part of the MDT.

Who is in my multi-disciplinary team?

Each hospital does things differently but your MDT will probably include some or all of the following people:

  • a specialist nurse
  • a urologist
  • an oncologist
  • a radiologist
  • a diagnostic radiographer
  • a therapeutic radiographer
  • a pathologist.

Some MDTs may be larger than this and include people such as counsellors.

Specialist nurse

Most MDTs will include a specialist nurse or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). They specialise in caring for men with prostate cancer and are usually the member of the MDT you’ll have most contact with. They’ll support you, answer questions and – in some hospitals – do biopsies and help with treatment. You can also talk to our Specialist Nurses, in confidence, about any questions or concerns you have.

Urologist

A urologist is a surgeon who specialises in treating problems with the urinary and reproductive systems, which includes the prostate. They can carry out biopsies to help diagnose your prostate cancer, and do the following treatments:

Oncologist

An oncologist specialises in treating cancer using treatments other than surgery, including:

Radiologist

A radiologist specialises in understanding medical scans and images, such as MRI, to diagnose prostate cancer. They will look at the scans and images taken by the diagnostic radiographer and explain these to the rest of your MDT. They can sometimes help deliver brachytherapy.

Diagnostic radiographer

A diagnostic radiographer specialises in taking images of the body. They will do any scans you need during your diagnosis and care and send these to your radiologist. These may include X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, CT (computerised tomography) scans and bone scans.

Therapeutic radiographer

Also called radiotherapy radiographers. They specialise in giving radiotherapy to treat cancer. They may work with the oncologist to give external beam radiotherapy or brachytherapy. Some radiographers may also give you check-ups to see if your treatment works and check on your side effects.

Pathologist

A pathologist specialises in looking at cells under a microscope. They will look at your biopsy samples to see if there are cancer cells present and grade these using the Gleason grade. You won’t meet the pathologist, but they will explain your biopsy results to the rest of your MDT.

What is a key worker?

Your key worker is the person in your MDT who is in charge of co-ordinating your care – this is usually the specialist nurse. They are your main contact and will talk to you about your views and make sure the rest of the MDT understand these. They can direct you to information and support, answer your questions or guide you to the right person if you want to talk about specific treatments.

Who else might be involved in my care?

Although your MDT will oversee your care, you may see other health professionals too. This will depend on your own needs and the health services in your area.

Talking to family and friends

You might be worried about telling your friends and family that you have cancer. You might be concerned about how they’ll react or if you’ll upset them.

It can be difficult to know how to start a conversation. Try to find a quiet place and explain to them that you have prostate cancer. You might find it helpful to show them this information.

Ask them if they have any questions. If you don’t know the answers, you could write down their questions and ask your doctor or nurse at your next appointment.

If you don’t feel able to tell your friends and family, you could ask someone you trust to tell people for you.

Macmillan Cancer Support produce information that can help you figure out where to start and make these conversations a bit easier. It includes information about talking to children.

If you have brothers or sons, you might want to talk to them about their own risk of prostate cancer. This is because men are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if their father or brother has had it, compared to someone who doesn’t have any relatives who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. They might want to talk to their doctor or nurse about their situation, particularly if they are 45 or over.

References

Updated: July 2019|Due for review: September 2021

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  • List of reviewers  

    • Manit Arya, Consultant Urological Surgeon, University College Hospital, London
    • Zoe Storton, Uro-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
    • Alastair Thomson, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust
    • Karen Wilkinson, Uro-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, University College Hospital, London
    • Our Specialist Nurses
    • Our Volunteers